Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
February 2008

At the Edinburgh festival, Brian McMaster regularly showcased Mackerras—the world's greatest Mozart conductor, in his view—in a series of the great Mozart operas. For his grand finale in 2006, the SCO played Nos 1-9 in Mackerras' cycle of the Beethoven symphonies, recorded live by Hyperion, which stands as one of the most satisfying on disc. These marvellous studio recordings of Mozart's last four masterpieces are possibly their finest record to date. Imbued with the spirit of the composer's masterly Viennese comedies and a Beethovenian intellectual rigour, the fleet outer movements of these symphonies sound like conversation pieces between sparkling strings, witty woodwinds and braying brass. With Mackerras, we get the best of both the modern and period-instrument worlds, with the singing flutes, oboes and clarinets (glorious in the trio of the E flat Symphony's minuet), natural trumpets and horns making a magnificent sound in the closing pages of the Jupiter's fugal finale. In his note, Neal Zaslaw evokes the intimacy that Mozart's audiences enjoyed, but Mackerras shows that these are symphonies on the grand scale: I don't know more enthralling accounts of the G minor and the 'Jupiter' on disc.